tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC January 22, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PST
hate is politics, hate is policies, but, please, don't say he's playing the race card anymore he's played in his life, the cheap and nasty stereotypes the haters carry so neatly and smugly in that their hearts. he ain't the guy you hate, unless you just hate. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. well, it has been a rough, rough day for the two former futures of the republican party. four years ago, this week, chris christie in new jersey and bob mcdonnell of virginia took the oaths of office to become the governors of their respective states. and in doing so, assumed the positions as the best candidates to lead the republican party out of one of its darkest periods. it was just a year after president obama had taken his oath of office, president barack hussein obama of jeremiah wright
fame, of palling around with terrorist fame, the first black, possibly muslim, possibly socialist president, who had kicked the republican butts in 2009, left them wondering why america had abandoned them. and if they could ever win again. so here with these two men, different as could be, one from the north, one from the south, one a real christian conservative hard charger, the other a classic northeastern straight-talking moderate republican. both rising stars in the party, one asked to deliver the republican response to the state of the union a couple weeks later. the other, already being talked about for a presidential run, asked to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 republican national convention. today, one of those governors has been indicted, while the other is lawyering up in hopes to avoid a similar fate amidst a growing cloud of scandal. it was bob mcdonnell, now the former governor of virginia, indicted today, along with his wife on corruption charges, by u.s. attorney of virginia. we will be getting into the absolutely incredible details of
that indictment shortly. they include two oscar de la renta dresses, an engraved row lex, a picture of the governor driving a rich dude's ferrari, and the first lady of the state of virginia allegedly discussing the possibility of conducting tests of an experimental nutritional supplement on state employees. all of that is ahead. but first, and to the north, in snowy new jersey, that other governor in the class of 2010, went before the state to deliver his second inaugural speech, and tried to focus on anything but the george washington bridge or new allegations from the mayor of hoboken. ♪ >> the inauguration of the 55th governor of new jersey was supposed to be yet another opportunity for chris christie to introduce himself to a national audience. >> so help me god. >> congratulations, governor. >> the undeclared launch of his 2016 presidential campaign.
instead, christie's coming out party took place under a cloud of scandal and suspicion. the big question, how was the christie administration going to handle it all? today, they tested out a new strategy. they simply ignored it. yep, that was lieutenant governor kim guadagno, relatively obscure jersey politico, who isn't so obscure anymore. >> the fact is that the lieutenant governor came to hoboken, she pulled me aside in the parking lot, and she said, i know it's not right, i know this thing should not be connected, but they are, and if you tell anyone, i'll deny it. >> following in the footsteps of guadagno, who has denied any wrongdoing, christie himself, who also denied any wrongdoing, also pretended like nothing happened. sticking the script of the republican who wanted a blue state, he delivered a speech that could have been written on election night, 77 days ago. >> each one of these challenges
have been met by a new, unified force in public life, a new jersey, setting tone for an entire nation. >> time for some traffic problems in ft. lee. >> the mayor of ft. lee, who you just saw there is not serbian, he's croatian, but chris christie's political appointee at the port authority referred to him as this little serbian. >> who would close down lanes to the busiest bridge in the world to get to me? i'm embarrassed for the entire state of new jersey, because it just sets is us back and we're guaranteed to be the brunt of the next 50 years of political jokes, and quite frankly, after this behavior, we deserve it. >> david wildstein responds, quote, they are the children of bouno voters, meaning barbara buono. >> there are times we need to get along and just get things done. >> i know that the christie administration is connecting the
sandy funds to this rockefeller problem. >> the lieutenant governor came and very directly said to me that these two things are connected. >> she delivers a very clear message. >> don't forget, when the lieutenant governor of the state of new jersey pulls you aside in a parking lot -- >> and then there was sandy. >> we have survived the worst natural disaster in our state's history and we have worked together to restore, renew, and rebuild the state that we love. >> but the storm that helped make christie's national profile -- >> i will governor with the spirit of sandy. >> -- now threatens to bring him down. >> this is black and white. and if it is found that this happened, lights out. >> today, chris christie gave a good, if not great, political performance. but there's now a u.s. attorney looking into possible criminal behavior from the administration and 20 outstanding subpoenas from the new jersey assembly, targeting almost everyone in the governor's inner circle.
at this moment, politics is the least of chris christie's worries. joining me now, msnbc contributor, joy reid, also managing editor of thegrio.com, and sam stine, with the "huffington post." joy, if you are in the christie circle right now, how are you managing this? if you're working for christie, you've been probably subpoenaed by the supercommittee. you've got a job to do, which is had this guy run a state, and you're going around to try to raise money, if you're part of his inner circle with the rga. like, where are you prioritizing what should come first? >> i think, probably, first, you're probably doing a lot of rocking back and forth. a lot of turgid phone calls to rudy giuliani, because he is, at this point, your only character reference -- >> he is out there swinging the bat for you. >> a dubious character reference, and at that, trying to get rick scott to be seen with you. >> and in rudy giuliani's defense, he was also a character witness for bernie -- >> and they share a lawyer. so what the christie team is
trying to do optics. so they start off with a church visit. what's better than that for a politician, to ensconce yourself in a rousing church ceremony. they go to new hope baptist church in newark, which is where they funeralized whitney houston and get them surrounded by pastors, and you have pastor ron carter give a sermon that was about the cameras working better in the dark, or something like that. so that didn't quite work, right? and then you try to go to the well. and that's what you try to do in the actual inauguration speech. you go back to the well of bipartisanship and diversity, but the whole scandal is about the bipartisanship patina being coerced -- being coerced by -- >> right, the bipartisanship you had ran on wasn't reaching across the aisle, it was the bipartisanship of threats and incriminations -- and sam, the whole speech today, i watched today, it was like a terrible family dinner in which some horrible event just happened in the family's life. some messy divorce, allegations of infidelity, and it's all out
in the open and someone just slams the door and says, i hate you and i'm leave welcome and then it's like, okay, back to dinner. >> and that speech could have been knocked around by his brain trust 100 days ago, when we're thinking, how do we brand him as the future of the republican party. >> it rang as it had written two months ago and wanted to deliver it today. >> i think to what they're trying to do here, they're trying to act as if nothing has happened, and leaving all of the bad stuff on the sidelines to be dealt with by the lawyers. and this whole theme of getting stuff done, there's a by-product benefit to it for christie, which is that anything that distracts him from getting stuff done could be dismissed as by partisanship. you can say all these, the new jersey assembly's investigation into what i'm doing, hud's investigation into the sandyites, the u.s. attorney's investigation, all of that is a distraction from getting stuff done, whatever ambiguous stuff you're talking about. i also noticed that he was very -- he had some issues that he put out there, the dream act that he got down, he highlighted that. he talked about the war on drugs, which he's done in the past, but not in those terms
before. i think he's trying to highlight those issues, not to distract voters or turn the situation a bit away from this. nothing's going to get done. no conversation will be turned until we get some very basic answers. >> there's also the fact that the way the political capital works is that you -- it ebbs and flows rather quickly. i think barack obama has discovered that and other people have discovered that. here is ken cuccinelli, he of the recent loss to terry mcauliffe in virginia, here he is earlier today, basically calling on christie to step down as head of the republican governor's association. >> you know the importance of the republican governor's association. chris christie's now in charge of that. do you think it's fair for him to stay in that role, that key role for your party, while he's going through all of this? >> i think, just from the perspective of setting aside this as an issue in other races, it makes sense for him to step aside in that role.
he does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman. >> does not serve the goals of the organization. i think it's hard to argue with that, right? >> hard to argue with that, particularly this midterm. when you have at least half a dozen governors, many of whom are in this class of 2010, who are already embattled, big target on them in ohio, in pennsylvania, in michigan, in maine. people who were in some senses already controversial, scott walker, for instance. and people who are going to need all the help they can get to raise lots of money and to keep themselves apart from a democratic onslaught this election season, when democrats really want those governorships back. how much good is a chris christie who's this hobbled to them? not much. >> and of course, sam, part of the argument for chris christie occupying that position to begin with was the fact that he's a good fund-raiser and close to a lot of big money folks, particularly in new york, who have loved him from the beginning. he has been a favorite of a certain kind of hedge fund new york finance donor since he first kind of rose to national prominence. and you have mckay cobins in buzz feed saying, there are definitely people jumping ship and donors are getting -- so what good does he do if you've
got this guy whose number one selling point is raising money which is going to be much harder for him to raise now. >> that's a huge problem, but i think the rga post was even bigger than that. this was supposed to be a broader party pivot. this was, okay, we've had our time with the tea party, we have done that, we need to go to more sensible, modern republicanism, but this was all supposed to cumulate in 2016 candidacy, and that's not muddled. and i will say this, i wouldn't necessarily take advice from ken cuccinelli, and i don't think chris christie will, because i think the most insane he will do right now is to leave the rga post. it will set another series of stories about how embattled he is, how wounded he is, and he can't afford that right now. >> think about really quick, the problem he created for one particular governor, rick scott, who's already got a lot of issues. >> who he was down there visiting with this week in florida. >> and decided not to be seen together. but the stories that were so easy for them to write about that, were to remind people of rick scott's old scandals.
and say, here was a governor who came in on backs of the huge medicaid or fraud scandal. >> the largest in the history of the american -- >> and you're instantly reminded, it's an easy trope to go to for all of the editorial writers, as soon as chris christie comes to town. so rather than help rick scott by shoring up the things about republicans that people are supposed to like, the can-do spirit, the getting things done, the rejecting high-speed rail, it reminds people of the things they don't like about rick scott, and causes rick scott to run the other way, as if he is -- >> the other thing about this, if you think this is ugly now, there are 20 outstanding subpoenas. we're getting a whole bunch of -- >> wait until discovery. >> there are going to be lawsuits, there's the hud investigation, which is nothing compared to the u.s. attorney's office, which is talking to dawn zimmer on a sunday holiday, for two hours. plus, listen to this, the other thing is that the entire underbelly of new jersey politics, which, the american voter isn't going to be so excited to be exposed to is
going to be turned over to the whole national press, because that is precisely what's at issue, and you are going to have a civil war in the democratic party, among republicans, between who's on which side, who sent what e-mail to whom. this is the tip of the iceberg, just in terms of -- and i'm not even saying there's more there in any kind of definitive statement. i'm saying when documents start coming out, when e-mails start coming out, as jeff smith said on this program last night, sam, the u.s. attorney can start investigating one thing and end up prosecuting something very, very different, it would not be the first time. >> absolutely. and part of what ends up happening, usually, with these investigations, is that they get you on obstruction of the investigation. so people are going to be jumping ahead of the line, as you know, to get in front of this. if you're someone who can be connected to any of these investigations, you have to make a choice now. do you want to be loyal to chris christie, do you want to be forthcoming, maybe you don't have anything to add. but there will likely be other people who come out. i wouldn't be surprised if there were other mayor who is follow what dawn zimmer did and say, basically, yes, i had a similar
exchange with the christie administration. i think the problem for the republican party that was broader, the governors were supposed to be the forefront, the bread and butter of the republican brand, and what you see now is two shining examples of the 2009 example and a bunch of the stars of 2010 elections are having real problems. >> and the great reminder here, joy, about this document i was holding in my hand, the best thing i've read in quite some time, the indictment of mcdonnell and his wife, maureen. the reminder in this document, the first time they meet with the big donor that they are alleged to have essentially exchanged gift for favors, state favors for, is in december 2009, scandals take a long time to play out, investigations can take a long time. this thing sort of percolated as a sort of side show story for a while. it reached a crescendo, we have an indictment not until four years after the first content. any donor who's sitting there on the sideline, and thinks will be decided one way or the other. anyone betting on horses at this point, they have to be thinking, things take a while. >> and now there's a tremendous
incentive for democrats, who were perceived as laying down for chris christie, to come out -- >> well, they did lay down -- >> who didn't help barbara buono at all. but now you have your carl lewises of the world, who come out and say, me too. so you have this unfolding drama. and as sam pointed out, discovery is always the biggest enemy of scandal. it brings out more and more and more, and there are so many people with incentives to come forward and really finish christie as a 2016 candidate, that there's nothing but incentive to continue -- >> the other question, any other dawn zimmers o out there? joy reid, sam stein from the "huffington post," thank you both. >> thanks, chris. coming up, as i announced before, the amazing list of charges in the indictment of that other member of the class of 2010, former virginia governor, bob mcdonnell. stay with us. female announcer: it's time to make room
set up and removal of your old set. don't wait! sleep train's year end clearance sale ends sunday. superior service, best selection, lowest price, guaranteed! ♪ sleep train ♪ your ticket to a better night's sleep ♪ an incredible twist today in the story we've been following closely here on "all in." the mysterious company responsible for leaking a chemical that's taken out a sixth of west virginia's water supply, freedom industries, a company that existed in its
current incarnation for only a few weeks, and then filed for bankruptcy on friday, in what appeared to be a fairly transparent attempt by its current owner, a man by the name of cliff forrest, to transfer the assets of freedom industries to a new company that he had a hand in creating, while shedding the legal liability. after our exclusive reporting on that, at least three different parties have gone to court to say, not so fast, freedom industries, not so fast. in a filing dated january 19th, the water company whose water was tainted by that leak, the west virginia water company, asked the judge to deny freedom's request, saying it, quote, smells of collusion, and quote, is a loan to own scheme. earlier today, twitter user posted another quote from a filing opposed to the bankruptcy by employees who lost wages because their employer was shut down due to the spill. quote, the debtor in this proceeding has accomplished the seemingly impossible production of a proposal with an odor worse than the water it has contaminated. the federal bankruptcy judge assigned to determine whether
a bombshell out of virginia today. federal indictment of former governor, bob mcdonnell, once a romney vice presidential contender, once considered a good candidate for president in 2016. the former head of the republican governor's association now headed by governor chris christie, and the rising star governor who once gave the republican response to president obama's state of the union address. that guy, bob mcdonnell, and his wife, maureen, former first lady of virginia, have now been indicted on multiple counts. it's a culmination of a years-long investigation, centering on the relationship between the mcdonnells and this man, johnny r. williams sr., who is the ceo of a dietary supplement company called star scientific. the basics of the allegations are this. that williams gave the governor and his wife more than $140,000
in gifts in exchange for concrete actions by both the governor and his wife to promote star scientific. in fact, the list of cash and gifts, as stated in today's indictment, includes $140,850 including multiple cash payments, black louis vuitton shoes, white louis vuitton shoes, a rolex watch engraved with 71st governor of virginia, a blew armani jacket and two dresses. one pair of emilio rose earrings, two sets of golf clubs and two iphones. i'm reading you only part of the long list of gifts alleged in this complaint. by the time the scandal had reached its apex in 2013, governor mcdonnell issued a statement, apologizing, while contending that all the gifts were legal, and he announced repayment of $252,178 for one loan, and $783,000 for two additional loans. that did not stop the work of federal prosecutors, who today in their indictment charged them
with such charges as conspiracy to obtain property under color of official rights. a little more than an hour ago, former governor mcdonnell responded to the charges. >> while i deeply regret accepting these legal gifts and loans from mr. williams, all of these now have been returned or repaid with interest. i have apologized for my poor judgment and i accept full responsibility for accepting the these legal gifts and loans. however, i repeat, again, emphatically, that i did nothing illegal for mr. williams in exchange for what i believed was his personal friendship and his generosity. i never promised and mr. williams and his company never received any government benefit of any kind for me or from my administration. >> joining me now, julian walker
who covers state politics, he's been covering this story. julian, i'm a little curious as to what precisely the governor and his wife's contention is about the allegations here. because it seems that some of the facts stipulated in the complaint are agreed to by both the u.s. attorney's office and the governor. the gifts, the gifts they returned, the loans they took and repaid. and some to be contested. do you have a sense of what basically the governor and his wife admit to and what they contest? >> i think it's two things. i think, one, it's referenced in the clip you just played, which is that the governor maintains that he never took any official action to promote star scientific, johnny williams, or the products, primarily, the health supplement, that star scientific was promoting at the time. so they maintain, he never got any state benefits. so therefore, there is no quid pro quo there. >> so let me just be clear. the argument, legally, is that there was the kid and not the quo. basically, they're not contesting that all sorts of
gifts that johnny williams paid for part of their daughter's wedding and all kinds of other material benefits they got as people. they're not contesting the kid. they're contesting the quo, right? >> well, the governor has never come out and given a full accounting of everything that he accepted. but as you pointed out, he has apologized for accepting the gifts and the loans and said he's returned or repaid those items. but to your point, they are saying, we never gave them anything back. that's part of it. the other part of it is that under virginia law, and as you point out, this is a federal indictment, under virginia law, gifts from personal friends, which he has characterized mr. williams as, are exempt from disclosure, exempt from reporting by state standards and state reporting forms. so that's another part of their defense, that, one, we didn't give him anything of value or any kind of official benefit from the state, and two, these things that we didn't report, we weren't required to report as virginia law is written now.
>> so in terms of what johnny williams got in response to him being so generous, and the generosity here is remarkable, as alleged in the complaint, this is a complaint filed, the attorney's office, including a shopping trip to new york city for maureen mcdonald, in which $50,000 worth of clothing was purchased, a rolex, the use of his vacation home where they drove his ferrari around. multiple trips to his exclusive golf club, where he took -- he paid the tab for all of that. that in exchange, what comes out in this complaint is a set of allegations in which the governor and his wife essentially put state policy makers in the same room with this guy, who's trying to sell his nutritional supplement, and most importantly, trying to get state universities to commission research to verify some kind of scientific claims that he could then use, go out to sell it. and it looks like they got relatively far along in that process, according to the complaint. >> well, right. access is what they got. they got access to the governor, they got access to the first family, and they got access, as
you point out, to state officials. state decision makers. whether or not that access paid dividends, i think, is debatable. at this point, as you point out in the indictment, while mr. williams was presented with an opportunity to interact with state officials, who could make decisions and he was promoted in front of university researchers, and they were encouraged to refer this to doctors, so that doctors could, in turn, recommend this supplement to their patients, there was some resistance along the way. so, again, that goes back, from state officials, who were put in the room with mr. williams, or who were part of these discussions, and so, again, that goes back to the defense that the mcdonald family is offering, which is, yes, perhaps access was granted, but what was the end result of this? did he actually get anything out of this? and, again, that's their defense. >> you know, it was striking to me, listening to bob mcdonnell, that his argument today was analogous to the argument that rod blagojevich had, which was, essentially, that the entire
business of politics is trading things of value for favors, and that they could never show that he'd actually done anything, that he was just conducting the normal kind of politics. i think if folks read the complaint by the u.s. attorney's office, it's hard to see this as run-of-the-mill. julian walker from the "virginian pilot," thanks for your time tonight. >> thank you. all right. did the president really say that everyone who opposes him is racist? no. we will tell you what he actually said, next.
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welcome to hannity. tonight, the president is blaming his low approval rate in opposition to his radical agenda on the color of his skin. >> the latest right-wing racial freakout centers on a quote in a new, very long article in "the new yorker," in which editor david remnick got to spend a few days traveling with president obama. at one point, in a wide-ranging set of interviews and discussions, the topic turns to race, with remnick writing that opposition to the president, quote, comes largely from older whites, who feel threatened, underemployed, overlooked, and disdained in a globalized economy and in an increasingly diverse country. the president then said the following to david remnick. there's no doubt there's some folks who just really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black president. now, i have lost count, truly, of the number of moments of nasty and/or weird right-wing racialized panics in the obama era. but this little episode just may be the most perfect, succinct, microcosm of our entire politics for the first five years of the
first black president. because here is the other part of the obama quote about the effect of race. quote, now the flip side of it is, there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt, precisely because i'm a black president. so, the president says, there are some people who don't like me because they don't like the idea of a black president, which is undoubtedly true. there are 300 million people in america. some of them are straight up racist and some don't like having a black president. but then, barack obama, make sure to also say that on the other hand, his race helps him with some subset of voters who, quote, give me the benefit of the doubt, precisely because i'm a black president. that's probably true as well, though i'd argue in a far, far less consequential way. but what the entire quote amounts to is treating the president's status as the first black president as basically a small, trivial concern that helps with some voters and hurts with others and it all comes out in the wash. it's like the way a southern politician might answer a question about his accent. no big deal, not much to see
here. that's what the president said. and yet, somehow, that utterly banal, even-handed treatment of the single most explosive issue in american life gets turned into this. >> provocative comments from president obama. >> instead of taking responsibility for his failures, the president blames everybody else. and this week, he's now taken this to an all-time new low. >> how do you attribute falling poll numbers while you are president to your race? >> anything that he does wrong that republicans call him on and say he's no doing a good job, the president says, they must not like me because of my race. i think it's pure baloney. >> and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the entire obama presidency in a nutshell. here is someone who announced himself to the nation in 2004 with a message, all about inclusion, cooperation, and transcending the nasty divides of american partisan life. someone's signature rhetorical approach in speech after speech after speech is to reject anything remotely polarizing, to never show the smallest amount
of anger, to couch nearly every single argument he makes in public life as a moderate path in between dueling extremes. this is someone who goes out of his way to argue the other site, as when he gave a speech talking about the necessity of war at the nobel peace prize ceremony and that man who has done everything within his considerable power to ratchet down the power of racial discourse has been met with this kind of reception from the right-wing industrial complex. >> the president has demonstrated, he's got a default mechanism in him that breaks down on the side of race, that favors the black person. >> president obama has offered the to pay out of his own pocket for the museum of muslim culture. >> this president, i think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white
people or the white culture. >> and the lesson that barack obama has learned that truly everyone in america is watching has learned is an old one. you cannot dissipate conflict through a sheer act of will. no matter how rare and historic a political talent you are. history has a saying. the other side has a saying. the roiling, simmering id of american political consciousness will not quiet just because you speak in low term. blue states, red states, these may be, indeed, constructs of pundits that obscure the real human connections and affinities that us citizens have for each other. the right-wing uncle, the lesbian cousin we adore. but it is also equally true we are fighting with each other in this country because you disagree about what our past means and about what our future should mean. and there's nothing wrong with recognizing that and joining the battle. if there's one thing we've seen in the obama era, it's that even if you're not interested in
40 years ago today, the second most important moment in american politics, this century, next to barack obama being elected president, took place. >> the u.s. supreme court today overturned laws on the books for nearly a century and ruled that corporations can spend freely now on political campaigns. >> citizens united decision eviscerated campaign finance reform law, and opened the floodgates to a murky, bizarre world of big money in politics that even most people who cover it don't fully understand. a world that's changing all the time, that we continue to paw our way through. we spent four years running a massive social experiment, in which we give corporations and the 1% more power to directly impact american and electoral outcomes, at a time when inequality is at the highest it's been since the eve of the great depression. and one of the ways that corporate interests exert that
power is through a group, called the american legislative exchange council. now, alec existed long before citizens united, but in the era of citizens united, as dark money groups have been able to take over, alec has become one of the most important organizations in the entire country. because what alec does is produce legislation and policy ideas, that have taken hold in states like north carolina, wisconsin, that have become laboratories for right-wing governance. these are not remote think tank ideas that never become policy, these are pieces of model legislation, drafted and ready to go on everything from torte reform to unions to the environment. that a conservative legislator can just click and download as an e-mail attachment and introduce the next day. today, americans across the country participated in a day of action against alec, and tomorrow, we are going to bring you an "all in" exclusive. we have obtained a whole bunch of alec documents that illustrate just exactly how this very secretive group wields its power and impacts your life. you're not going to want to miss it.
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my dad, as you know, born in mexico, poor, didn't get a college degree, became head of a car company. i went off on my own. i didn't inherent money from my parents. what i have, i earned. >> it's sometimes easy, sometimes easy to forget how special america really is. but i was raised by exiles. by people who know what it is
like to lose their country. >> those were exciting days. we lived in little shotgun house. one room for the three of us. in time, we had six children, moved from the shotgun to a duplex apartment to a house and lived the dream. high school football on friday nights, little league, neighborhood barbecue. >> a candidate's biography is a strange genera. it's not fiction, but it's not quite nonfiction either. lives, any life, have made up of thousands of experiences and a bio only has a room for a few. and a candidate's biography is made up of the stuff that voters are most likely to like. for instance, when we take a look at wendy davis' biography, we get stuff like this. >> by the time i was 19, i also was already married and divorced and raising a young daughter myself, living in poverty and facing the same challenges and hardships that i'd seen my mother face. >> she went from being raised by a mother with a sixth grade education, who supported her
four kids, to living in a trailer park with her own child, to graduating the first in her class, to going on to harvard law school, to become a texas state senator in 2008. these up by the bootstraps details of wendy davis' bio are familiar, and when she became a rock star last june, it was those details that not only helped to endear her to the people of texas, but helped make her a national star, including right here on this network. all of it has helped her raise $12 billion. but that's not the whole story about wendy davis, because it's never the whole story about any candidate. reporter wayne slater has a new piece in "the dallas morning news" that's making quite a stir in the davis campaign, in which davis herself admits she's been, quote, using broader, looser language, needs to be more focused on the details of her biography. she was never technically a single teen mother, because davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. she only lived in that trailer for a few months while separated from her husband. she did go to harvard law school.
it turns out that her second husband at the time cashed in his 401(k) account and took out a loan to help pay for her final loan there. on a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to fudging and lying, 10 being outright deceit, this is closer to a 1, i think. but as a democratic politician running for statewide office in texas, wendy davis has to realize that for the right-wing, this is not about the slipperiness of candidate bios, this is about a dam of vitriol that has been building and building and now the dam has burst. wendy davis is probably the single biggest conservative target in this election cycle, and you can see it in the way the right has run with this story. from drudge, texas abortion heroine lined about being a single teen mom. erick erickson, i await wendy davis' lawsuit. and john noulte tweets, interesting, as mainstream media destroys christie, new media is taking down wendy davis.
joining me now, chris ball, co-host of msnbc's, "the cycle," which airs weekdays at 3:00 p.m. eastern. she was the democratic nominee for congress in virginia's first congressional district in the 2010 election. ben moore, former director of the pac progress texas, and co-author of "bush's brain: how karl rove made george w. bush president." how has the fallout in texas been around this story from wayne slater? >> i don't think there's been big fallout yet, chris. but, remember, we're talking, if you're a woman in this state and you've watched wendy's assent politically, you're watching somebody who did from the trailer park, whether if the csi forensic guys are saying, excuse me, ma'am, was it two months or two years, she came from the trailer park, she went to harvard, her husband, who wayne interviewed extensively, as you
noted, was very fond of her. she gets out of harvard, she becomes a state senator in this state, where it's very difficult for a woman to succeed politically. what i'd suggest is that if this were a man in texas who had made this same assent and had this same narrative to share, everybody would be going, oh, my god, look at the sacrifices he made for his family to succeed and achieve and look at what he's done. instead, greg abbott's campaign, and the right, is trying to portray this as a woman who put ambition above her family. not the case, she raised her children. she and her husband had an amicable divorce. she is a successful woman, and this is a nonstory. >> jess, i suspect you feel the same way. allow me to play quickly devil's advocate. candidate bios come under scrutiny all the time. marco rubio had a whole thing,
it seemed to me like maybe not the most important detail in the world, but that was weeks of stories, right? this does happen. this is part of being in the big leagues, right? >> yes, absolutely. but i think, let's take a look at what the actual discrepancies are there. she said she got divorced when she was 19. turns out she was separated at 19. the divorce became official at 21. now, i've been telling everybody my entire life that my parents got divorced when i was 4. but i just texted my mom from the green room, and it turns out that wasn't official until i was 5. i think anybody who has a divorce in their life knows the date that matters. >> that's right! that's a good point. >> as for the trailer park, if greg abbott is really going to base his campaign around attacking her for not living as a single mother with her young daughter in a mobile home for long enough, that's going to be really tough to win over voters -- >> i suggest that she go that route. i think that would be -- >> agreed. >> jeff makes a good point, that basically, the argument now is that wendy davis was not pan
impoverished single mother in a trailer home for sufficiently long to be able to put it on her resume? >> right. it's that, and the other piece of it that jess and jim are both pointing to, is this idea that she was overambitious and she was a negligent mother, you know, a critique that would never be leveled at a man. so there is a very gendered nature of this. and i think, also, the right wing has been dying to expose the quote/unquote, real wendy davis, ever since she rose to national prominence. i don't know if you remember this, was after she waged her epic filibuster, there was this blog post going around with photos of her from 20 years ago and photos of her now, how can she possibly look this good? she must not be real, there must be something going on here. they are just dying to expose something that is nefarious about wendy davis. >> i want to talk about the candidate biomore broadly. you're someone who had to write a candidate bio, and what you put in and what you take out, right after this break. female announcer: it's time to make room
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why did president bush choose to move here? >> you know what's the million-dollar question? i have no idea. >> he was about to run for the presidency, and he was going to have to be from somewhere more than just the governor's mansion, i think. >> a couple bales of hay and a broke-down shed in the background. that's all they really see, so that's all they really know. >> that's from the incredible film "crawford," which is about the invented past of george w. bush, the ranch he bought in crawford. so krystal, you had to do this. and it occurred to me as we were talking today, i could write a bio about myself, i could write three different ones that are completely different images of me, all of which are true, and
all that would make the subject seem completely deferent. what is that process like? >> it is interesting, because suddenly you're looking at your life as a story, right? what is the story that i want to tell about myself, and then you kind of fit in the pieces, so that they work. and when i was running for congress, i could even say, i started running when i was 27, when the election actually came, i was 28. which facts of those would i say? was i running when i was 27 or 28? but they put up this website called the real krystal ball, the local republican party, it was supposed to expose who i really was. now, i had done a lot of different things, even though i was only 27, 28 years old. i was a cpa, had designed software, implemented software across the country and had all these things in my bio. and they basically wanted to make the point that i hadn't done any of them long enough to count. that the only qualification that i really had was as a mother. so they put all these things on the website, economist, cpa, et cetera, et cetera, and they were all crossed out, and it just
said mother. as if, number one, that's a bad thing, but number two, that i was nothing more than a mom. and with wendy davis, it's funny, because they're doing the exact opposite. they're saying, you aren't a good enough mom to be a quality candidate. and that's a problem for women, who have to hit this goldilocks zone of the perfect story. >> yeah, jess, it is the opposite here, right? because there's one story which is about these inconsistencies or the looseness of her language about how long she lived in a trailer park. then there's this broader idea that somehow she was -- really nasty stuff coming from the right, that she was a bad mom, that she was a gold digger in some weird way. that's sort of being implied between the lines. all these really gendered things, that she's this sort of untrustworthy, ambitious woman, who will use whoever's in her way. >> so the thing about candidate bios, is that they are powerful because voters identify with them. >> more than anything. >> and wendy davis has quite possibly the most powerful personal story that we have heard. and millions of texans identify with it. the reason why we are hearing these attacks now is because last week, wendy davis had the
best week of her campaign. she shocked everybody by outraising greg abbott. she unveiled an education platform that got great press coverage all over texas. now we are seeing these sort of tried and true attacks that are, frankly, going to alienate the people that are identifying with that story. i think unless you can say to an audience, the way she can, that you have cut up a totinos pizza to make it last four meals so your kid could have the real food, you should probably just lead this story to the candidate who can tell it. this is going to turn off women, especially, that might have voted for greg abbott. >> but, jim, here's what i've heard. and i know a number of people in texas politics have been talking to you. i have not heard excellent things about the davis campaign from just a sort of functional, blocking and tackling standpoint. they are now in the big leagues. they're raising big league money. they're trying to do something that no democrat has done in 20 years. is this campaign, is the operation on the ground there, up to the task? >> i would say at the moment, they aren't doing as well as
they should. obviously, they mishandled this. they had wendy come out and talk about using tighter language, and the usage of a term like that suggests that they're trying to manage or control a story or it's implied that there's something that doesn't need to be revealed. they need more transparency. they need to be more aggressive and more outfront. she has, as everybody knows, an amazing story, that appeals broadly to all of the suburban women in this state. and by greg abbott attacking that story, what he's doing is he's suggesting to every woman in texas, who is struggling, whether it's with their family, their husband, or whether it's independently, that whatever it is wendy did, it wasn't enough. and these are women who are comparing themselveses to her and are saying, my god, if she's not doing enough, what about me? it's going to hurt his campaign. the more he attacks her this way, he's going to run into trouble. >> krystal? >> i completely agree. i think especially going after the education piece. she put herself through
community college and graduated ahead of texas christian with the aid of scholarships. you know, by the time she was married, by the time she went to harvard and had a husband who was willing to help. >> that's jess mcin tosh, ben moore, and krystal ball, who can you can catch here on "the cycle." that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, rachel. >> good evening, chris. thanks, my friend. and thanks to you at home. when it rains, it pours. former governor bob mcdonnell of virginia and his wife, the first lady of virginia, maureen mcdonnell, have today been indicted by federal prosecutors on more than a dozen felony charges. if they are convicted of those charges and they face the maximum penalties allowed by law, they could be looking at decades in jail and fines of over $1 million. this is a story that we have been covering from the very beginning. our first coverage of this scandal was back in early april of last year.